Gulfport, Miss. – Edward Lee Thomas, 48, of Perkinston, pled guilty yesterday, before U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden, to producing images of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Gilbert Trill, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New Orleans.
In March of 2020, HSI Gulfport received 95 images and 2 videos of child sexual abuse from The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). The investigation led agents to a residence in Forrest County, Mississippi, where the sexual abuse images of two minors had been taken. Agents executed a federal search warrant at the residence of Edward Lee Thomas in Perkinston, Mississippi. The seizure and forensic examination of electronic devices taken from Thomas’ residence revealed over 4,000 images and 700 videos of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
Thomas will be sentenced by Judge Ozerden on January 21, 2021, at 10:00 a.m., in Gulfport. He faces a penalty of not less than 15 years and not more than 30 years in prison. However, if Thomas’s 2004 Mississippi state conviction for sexual battery of a child is determined to be a qualifying prior conviction, he faces a maximum penalty of not less than 25 years nor more than 50 years, and a $250,000 fine.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Jones.